After the exciting discovery that And Now Tomorrow was the FIRST EVER #1 New York Times Bestseller on the very first NYT bestseller list in 1942, I decided it was time to re-read Rachel Field's last novel. It had been years since I read it cover to cover. I'm happy to report that the third time through was even better than the first two, and it's only 99 cents on Kindle right now - so seize the opportunity! Admittedly, I'm biased, but that's only partially responsible for my enthusiasm.
Yes, there are parallels between the book and Rachel's life that I did not remember. The first, intense love affair in the protagonist's life spans the exact years of Rachel's passion for Lyle Saxon - 1928 to the early 1930s. Protagonist Emily Blair's experience of love's power to consume and humble is echoed, sometimes word for word, in Rachel's real life letters to Lyle. The day trip to a historic house that Emily and her beloved Harry undertake in the book duplicates Rachel and Lyle's visit to the old General Cowles house in Farmington Connecticut. The first encounter, flooded with the flush of love, is later recalled in an ache of longing to recover a love diminished. There are many more such scenes, shifts, and revelations that track with Rachel's love, heartbreak, and return to a more peaceful, if slightly jaded self.
And Now Tomorrow is further complicated by sibling rivalry and the tragedy of meningitis-induced deafness, but the book is much more than a beautifully written, complex tale of romantic entanglements. Beyond that, there is a fascinating and humanizing exploration of the trials of the early 1930s labor movement, the clash between traditional corporations and unionizers. These elements of historic fiction give it even greater weight.
And Now Tomorrow solidifies Rachel Field's prowess as a novelist and emphasizes the tragedy of her loss. How many more extraordinary works would have come from her hand if she hadn't died so suddenly and so young? We'll never know, and we are the poorer for it.
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.